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Big Train, The (Part II)

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Big Train, The (Part II)

Published ca. 1950s

Operations of the New York Central Railroad. Producer and director: Victor Solow. Introduced by NYCRR president Alfred E. Perlman.

Run time 13:16
Producer MPO Productions
Sponsor New York Central Railroad
Audio/Visual Sd, C




Reviewer: Carbón de Coque - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 8, 2009
Subject: Transcript of Alfred Perlman's speech
Transcript of Alfred Perlman's speech, starting from 7:32:

But that is only half the story. I'd like to tell you the other half myself. But first a question: How would you like to run a business, if the government used your tax dollars to build one alongside you? Then made it tax-free, and turned it over to a competitor, and helped him operate and maintain it! That is the problem of the railroad.

Now let me go back a little in railroad history. In the 19th century, the railroads had a virtual monopoly of inland transportation. Regulation of the railroads grew up with that monopoly in mind. They were necessary laws, indeed they made sense -- half a century ago. Today these laws still control railroad operations. But what happened to our monopoly? Is in it in the passenger transportation? Is it in hauling freight? Well, what happened to our monopoly?

As all of us know, it has disappeared. But you'd never know it from the volumes of laws and regulations that still govern our railroad operation. Here is an airport. A modern, up-to-date airport. Who paid for it? Why like every airport, the taxpayers did. The local government took tax money to build it. Or it floated tax-exempt bonds to build it, and it got the federal government to put up more tax money, from all of us, to help in its construction.

Now here is a rail terminal, not quite as up-to-date. Who paid for that? Why the railroad did, and it not only paid for it, but pays taxes on top of it. Three million dollars a year, to be exact. Now that makes a difference. Airports, bus terminals, truck terminals, bridges, tunnels, ultra-modern freeways, government-dredged waterways? The rights of way of our competitors. Billions of dollars worth of property, built and maintained by taxes -- yours and ours.

The right of way of the New York Central, 10,000 miles of it, our bridges, our freight terminals, our passenger terminals, our research installations: not only built by us, not only maintained by us, but in addition we pay property taxes of 40 million dollars annually. Taxes that go to support community activities like schools, the fire department, the police department, the highway department.

Quite a contrast to our competition, isn't it? And yet the railroads are the lowest true cost producers of mass transportation. The ships in the St. Lawrence seaway, the trucks on the highway, are not truly producing transportation as inexpensively as a train -- when you realize how many of their costs are paid for by the taxpayer.

Which brings us back to our question: How would you like to run a business, if the government built one alongside you? And made it tax-free, and then turned it over to a competitor, and helped him operate and maintain it. That is the problem of the railroads. Now, despite outdated policies which restrict us, discriminate against us, and would have put any other industry out of business, the railroads have made progress. And you've just seen how much we are doing to make even more progress.

But in a competitive free enterprise society, we cannot indefinitely run a business in competition with government-financed, government-supported business. What we have is a lop-sided transportation policy on federal and state levels. A policy which is slowly squeezing the life out of our railroads. What do we ask? Well that's simple: we ask for an up-to-date, fair transportation policy. We ask that ALL forms of transportation pay their way, as now only the railroads do.

Or failing that, we ask the same tax benefits and the same government support under which other forms of transportation operate today. We are not just discussing a 4% return versus a 6% or 8% return, we're discussing the steady expansion and growth of American industry as a whole. We're discussing your standard of living and comfort; we're discussing your better standard of living and your greater comfort tomorrow. You can't have them without modern and more efficient railroads. Unless you know the facts, and demand a modern transportation policy which gives equal treatment to every form of transportation. Thank you.
Reviewer: IowaKen - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 27, 2006
Subject: The Big Train
Though this was basic company PR, Perlman's so-called rant, was frustration quite valid in those times. He was just asking for a level playing field, such as we have now in transportation. This was not uncommon from other men in the railroad industry at the time, they were being squeezed. Forced to run passenger trains as an example, without profit by Government regulation. Perlman was hardly a flamboyant figure back then, but rarely afraid to speak his peace. Deregulation in 1980 finally put an end to 75 years regulation, and leveled the playing field, but not before many properties fell victim to the economy and competition.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavorite - January 30, 2003
Subject: Like a little whine with your Railroads?
Essentially two films, the Big Train combines a rather stirring voyage a freight train makes from Point A to Point B, with a unbelievable whining complaint from the Railroad's head honcho. Alfred Perlman.
The film starts out with Perlman introducing the film we're about to see. With jarring narration (A Rod Serling wannabe?) the voyage of the train is told, filmed with great simplistic shots of the tracks going by, this part is actually quite exciting, with it's jarring music and melodrama.
The real fun starts when Perlman, realizing that this film is not all about him, comes back on about 5 minutes left into the picture and just starts RANTING about how the government doesnt give the Railroads a break. It's quite funny to see this hissy fit. The only time Perlman lets up is to CLEAN HIS PIPE. LOL. That's great.
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